Beretta is the world’s oldest firearms manufacturer. It has recently purchased a number of other firearms manufacturers. One of these companies is Tikka, an old and established Finnish firm that has made superb hunting rifles for a number of years.
While noted for its handguns and shotguns, Beretta’s experience with rifles has been less successful. Several years ago, the company introduced a rifle called the Mato, which was a clone of the famous pre-64 Winchester Model 70. A superb rifle offered only in hunting configurations, it never was popular.
Rather than building a rifle internally, as with the Mato, Beretta officials looked in the industry to see what companies were available that had a broad enough product line to allow them to offer a precision bolt action rifle for the law enforcement market. Beretta subsequently purchased Sako, another old Scandinavian manufacturer, and also Tikka, the subject of this review.
Sako also offers law enforcement tactical rifles, but its models are at the very highest end and probably out of the price range of all but the most specialized departments. In contrast, the Tikka T3 that we evaluated is comparable to an upgraded Remington 700P, which is the most popular precision rifle in American law enforcement arsenals.
Like the Remington 700P, the Tikka T3 is a modified version of its popular hunting rifles. Its Tactical Precision rifle has a 20-inch, hammer-forged, heavy barrel. It is threaded for either a flash hider or sound suppressor and is coated in a non-reflective manganese phosphate finish. The two-stage trigger is adjustable for weight of pull, and the rifle without scope weighs around 9 pounds.
The T3 uses a 5-shot, single-column magazine, and the stock has an adjustable cheek-piece, a beavertail-type forend, and is made of a synthetic fiberglass reinforced copolymer polypropylene material. The stock is adjustable for length of pull, and the rifle comes equipped with a Picatinny rail (MIL-STD-1913) to accept most scope bases and accessories. There are sling swivels both fore and aft that will allow the attachment of a bipod on the forend.
Our test rifle came equipped with a Burris Xtreme Tactical 3-12 illuminated reticle scope and Burris Tactical 30mm rings. Burris was acquired by Beretta several years ago, and the XTR (Xtreme Tactical Scopes) represent its first serious entry into the law enforcement tactical optics market.
In addition to the author, the evaluation included two experienced state police riflemen. The accuracy testing was done at 100 yards. We used Black Hills .308 Win 168-grain HPBT Match ammunition. This ammo uses the 168-grain Sierra BTHP bullets, which is the industry standard. Our rifle had a Harris bipod, and all shooting was done prone utilizing the superb BlackHawk Products Group Long Gun Pack Mat.
Everyone likes the single-column magazine. The rounds stripped out of the magazine with ease compared to the staggered column feed found in most rifles, including some with magazines. None of the shooters liked other magazine-feed precision rifles. Everyone said this was absolutely the best magazine system they had used and like the concept that magazines could be color coded if for some reason different ammunitions were needed. The magazine was sturdy, locked in place precisely and was easy to load.
The action was very fast, i.e., the loading and ejection seemed smoother than comparable rifles. The trigger pull was superb. However, it did not have two stages noted in the specification sheet accompanying the rifle. I measured the weight at just under 3 pounds with a glass-like break.
The bedding system of the Tikka T3 is unique. There is no recoil lug on the receiver. The recoil lug is embedded in the stock and marries up to a slot cut in the bottom of the receiver ring. The action is held in the stock by two screws, and the barrel is completely free floating from the receiver ring forward.
The adjustable cheek-piece was click-adjustable for height and could be locked in place. The butt plate was not adjustable up and down, and when the cheek-piece was elevated, the butt wound up being placed lower on the shoulder. This enhanced the recoil effect. The shooters felt that a better overall stock design was needed. The T3 stock seems to be a modification of either a hunting or varmint-style stock and needed a fuller pistol grip and less drop at the butt plate.
The accuracy was outstanding. Over 120 rounds of Black Hills ammunition was fired by the shooters. Not one of the 5-shot groups exceeded 0.75 inches, and most were near 0.5-inch! Many custom tactical rifles that cost twice as much will not do this well.
Burris XTR Tactical Scope
The Xtreme Tactical 3-12 x 50mm scope is clearly designed to challenge the dominance of the Leupold family of MK4 telescopic sights, which are the LE community standard. Using a 30-mm tube for strength and to allow greater windage and elevation adjustments, this scope also incorporates an illuminated reticle. While opinions vary on the value of lighted reticles, the Burris XTR has a unique and very easily utilized illumination adjustment/on-off feature.
Located on the left side of the scope, with the distance focus knob, Burris has integrated its illumination switch—by simply moving to the end of the focus knob, the illumination feature can be turned on and adjusted for brightness. This seems far handier than some scopes whose illumination feature is located on the top of the ocular lens.
The Burris XTR came equipped with the Burris Tactical Rings that resembled the excellent rings made by Badger Ordnance. The scope worked perfectly throughout our test with accurate adjustments, easy-to-use controls and visual brightness and clarity comparable to other scopes in its price range.
All three precision riflemen liked the Tikka T3 and its impressive accuracy. However, all equally felt that improvement to the stock design was needed. Newly introduced to the U.S. law enforcement market this year, there is no “track record” of performance and durability for the T3, but we suspect it should fare well given the historic quality of Tikka rifles. With some redesign to the stock, the T3 should be well-received by law enforcement precision riflemen.
Sheppard Kelly is a former supervisory special agent with a federal law enforcement agency. He was in charge of its firearms training and weapons and ammunition research and development program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.